John Geoghegan, who has held top managerial posts at Saatchi & Saatchi and J. Walter Thompson Co., took his first job in advertising because he thought the industry was fast-paced and exciting.
Today, Mr. Geoghegan, 41, is leaving a field he considers mature, where the executive challenge is related to mergers, downsizing and basic survival. The grass is greener, he now believes, on the Internet.
So this month he will assume his new post as CEO of San Francisco-based start-up CareGuide.com.
"The Internet is the hot, happening place to be," said Mr. Geoghegan. "It has the qualities that attracted me to advertising--a fast-paced, high-growth industry where young people have lots of responsibility."
That contrasts, he said, to the advertising industry today, which is "mature and pretty slow. We're not talking about a year to come up with one TV spot."
Mr. Geoghegan is hardly the only marketing executive checking out life with Internet start-ups and their potential for huge windfalls and personal wealth as companies move through various stages of financing.
AS OTHERS HAVE DONE
Brian Sweete, formerly exec VP-chief marketing officer at Pepsi-Cola Co., has taken a similar position at online auction site eBay. Glenn Goldberg moved from agency Think New Ideas to director of marketing for DirectWeb, a start-up hoping to change the nature of the computer and online world by giving PCs to subscribers who sign up for a $19.95 a month Internet service.
Mr. Geoghegan is leaving a post as general manager of JWT West's San Francisco office. One of his final projects at the agency was working on the pitch that last month won the $10 million Pacific Gas & Electric Co. account.
He joined JWT in 1994, after nine years at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York and Asia, where he also worked to develop new business.
FOCUS ON HIRING
In his new role, Mr. Geoghegan's task will center on hiring.
"Like many Internet companies, their revenues can grow in direct proportion to their ability to grow their staff," he said.
CareGuide.com's Web site lists 75,000 elder-care providers and 92,000 child-care facilities nationwide. In addition to the directory, the site provides visitors with information related to the type of care they are seeking.
For example, someone trying to find a nursing home for a parent might also be a target for a real estate agent in the area because they may be selling the family home. Referrals to related marketers are expected to be a major source of revenue for CareGuide.com, now carried on iVillage, women.com, Excite and Yahoo!
"Ironically enough, advertising is not part of their revenue model, and I find that definitely refreshing," Mr. Geoghegan said. He added: "An agency search is not one of our priorities. They have been very successful marketing themselves without advertising."
Still, Mr. Geoghegan said he learned a few things in the ad business. And the first to come to mind, he said, is "resiliency."